Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Parfum d'obsession, a Twitter bubble fragrance

After the election, the Alba support base was derided as a "Twitter bubble" - meaning something that seemed hugely strong on social media but barely existed elsewhere.  That's actually not true - you don't get to 2% of the vote (enough to fill a large stadium) from social media diehards alone.  A better example of a bubble phenomenon was the Bella Caledonia campaign in 2011 to persuade people to spoil their ballots in the AV referendum by writing the word "INDEPENDENCE". A 'masterstroke' was how they described the wheeze, but the number of people who actually did it was vanishingly small.

There's a more subtle variant of the bubble, too, and that's when the nature of support for a very popular party is mischaracterised.  How many times over the last few weeks have we heard the SNP's win being appropriated as a vindication for GRA reform? Kirsty Blackman used words to the effect that "Scotland wants GRA reform and we must deliver".  Jack Deeth, one of the young identity politics extremists that I was finally forced to block on Twitter a few days ago, currently has a pinned tweet claiming that for every one person that defected from the SNP to Alba, two would rejoin (just like him!) because of self-ID.  The impression we're supposed to get is that "middle Scotland", the quiet majority of decent people, are just gagging for GRA reform and decide how to vote largely on that basis. With all due respect, that's every bit as fantastical as some of the more outlandish predictions we heard during April about how Alba might fare.  The vast majority of people, regardless of whether they actively oppose GRA reform or don't care about it, do not give the SNP any brownie points for prioritising it.  As Alex Massie noted the other day, if the SNP haven't taken an electoral hit from the GRA yet, that's partly because people intuitively don't believe that Nicola Sturgeon means her "trans women are women" statement quite as literally and inflexibly as she actually does.  Just because this stuff seems totally mainstream to a small number of entryists who now wield vastly disproportionate influence within the SNP, that doesn't mean people out in the real world see things in the same way.

One of those entryists is Mark McGeoghegan, who has spent the last few months marketing himself as a polling expert, and has used that platform to give the veneer of analytical objectivity to some of the downright bizarre claims he's made in support of his anti-Alba hate campaign.  For example, he said in the run-up to the election that, while he couldn't prove that Yes support had dipped because moderate people (the army of self-ID supporters, presumably!) were being put off by Alba, that was obviously the reason and anyone who didn't agree with him about that was a zoomer.  A serious analyst would have just stopped at the "couldn't prove" bit, because the idea that Yes support was being significantly affected by a small party receiving negligible coverage is self-evidently in the realms of fantasy.

What Mark really means is that he personally finds Alba ghastly and thinks the rest of Scotland looks like him (and that if it doesn't, it should).  This tweet, offered as a parting shot after I blocked him, Deeth and a number of the others, made me laugh - 

At what point do we worry about failures of self-awareness? This is, after all, a chap who is so obsessed with Alba that he's been 'hilariously' substituting the party's correct name with 'Abla' each and every time he's mentioned them over the last two months - which is quite a lot.  Real people, of course, not only don't find that remotely amusing, they don't even know why they're supposed to be laughing.  

When your relentless attack lines are only understood by an in-group who are in on an in-joke, that's a pretty strong indication that you're on the inside of the bubble looking out, not the other way around.


  1. Jack D'eath is another foreigner interfering in the political affairs of my country. There do seem to be a lot of them in the woketard wing of the nicola murrell party.
    not a very healthy situation.

  2. J Deeth is one of those nauseating little Napoleons who is a sideshow audience unto himself - the net has caught loads of them - nobody cares about him or his loon friends. I don't know or care what the acronym 'GRA' means btw - and neither does 95% (or more probably) of the Scottish population. Still, if someone wants to call himself a her or herself a him then frankly, like most folk, I couldn't gaf.

  3. Actually, Nicola really ought to come out of her alleged closet and put her cards on the table - people would respect and understand that - but at the moment, the distraction of genitalia politics is incomprƩhensible and fking absurd from the FM who seems to put IndyRef2 on the back burner at every turn.

  4. BTW feel free to delete any comments I make if they are too near the knuckle - it's a tendency of mine. Speaking the truth and all that.

  5. TBH, the 'relentless attacks' are in the twitter bubble. In real life I've experienced zero SNP vs Alba aggro. My dad voted SNP-Alba while I was SNP-SNP and we happily discussed the election, pros and cons of each party, strategies etc over a few beers without gouging each other's eyes out. And he reads my comments on here! :-)

    1.7% was a decent start from out of nowhere, but it was too short notice and clearly the SNP won the 'who has the best strategy for indy' competition, so all Yessers have to work constructively with that. We have to go with the public's timetable as it's them who will 'deliver independence' not Sturgeon or Salmond.

    The public look minded to have a referendum in the first half of this parliament once the pandemic is under control and life is broadly back to normal. I want that too; if simply because I want to have a huge street party for indy where folks can hug everyone if they want without causing some excess deaths.

    Anyway, by next year a yes should be a forgone conclusion, ensuring it's really a formality (which is key for both Scottish, UK and international acceptance) and that the result will not be overturned in an election. The recent election is sound evidence for that; Yes parties finally breaking that 50% threshold for the first time for our parliament. For me, this was the last piece of the puzzle; unionists will never again win a majority share of the vote for Holyrood so once we vote Yes, it will not be undone or 'softened' back to home rule or something.

    So we are good to go, but softly softly catchee monkey.

    1. "We have to go with the public's timetable"

      But we're not going with the public's timetable. We're going with the SNP leadership's timetable. One might almost say the public's "feet are being held to the fire" by the SNP - something you disapprove of, I gather.

      I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this "it'll be a foregone conclusion by next year" stuff. No it won't be. If we win an independence referendum, regardless of whether it's next year or twenty years from now, it'll be close, it'll be hard-won, and the result will be uncertain throughout the campaign.

    2. I'm not trying to be argumentative, just basing things on what I see in the data James, from Yes/No polls to national identity and the political history of Scotland. We need to look at the bigger picture to understand where we are. It's easier now that we have so much data since 2011, with this growing all the time. I was pretty sure we'd lose in 2014, but still had hope. Now I know for sure in retrospect there was no chance at all; 45% was the very max possible. It's why Westminster was so happy to facilitate; I'm sure they had more data than I could dream of, from detailed polling to focus groups.

      The change in Scotland over my quite short lifetime has been incredible. Scotland is so much less British than it was even in the early 80's. Back then, an alien landing here would have worked out they were in Britain in minutes. British stuff was everywhere, from the trains to the coal and phones. Now it's all gone, replaced by Scottish.

      And I'll note that most independence referendums are almost always foregone conclusions James as they are driven fundamentally by identity and not economics etc. Unless they e.g. come to early, like in 2014, when the strength of identity is not yet there because British still hangs on in the post-war generation.

      But if we have a lot of work to do as you say, then best not rush into iref2! :-)

    3. Honest to goodness, I do my best to give you the benefit of the doubt, but that is just pure propaganda from start to finish. What gives the game away more than anything is this: "I was pretty sure we'd lose in 2014, but still had hope." That is not what you were saying at the time. In fact, you were far more bullish about victory in 2014 than I was. So either you were misleading people then or you're misleading them now.

      As someone else has said, it feels very much like you start from the assumption that whatever the SNP leadership are doing at any given moment must be right, and work backwards to find reasons why it's right.

    4. I think that’s a bit unfair James.

      Maybe my own ‘propaganda’, but nobody else’s! I’ve never pushed any SNP material or ‘party line’ in my life. My graphs and thoughts are my own. I am impartial in terms of pro-indy parties; I just pick one or more come election time. To influence things a bit more, I joined the SNP so I can get a say in candidate selection. I’d probably join another if I could be in two at once for that purpose! Other than that, I have zero contact with them and have never campaigned for any party, only Yes.

      By contrast, you openly advocate a vote for Alba and promote their strategies on here, linking to their promo stuff. That’s absolutely fine because you are open about it and it’s your site. However, that much better fits the definition of ‘propaganda’ than what I post. šŸ˜‰

      I stand by what I said about 2014. Deep down I could not help but feel we were going to lose, but I tried my best to be optimistic and give people hope. I spent a lot of time analysing polls and giving my thoughts. I suspected polls were possibly underestimating things and was right, e.g. about 2010 weighting.
      And even when things looked nearly impossible in 2012, I did not do a wings ‘you might as well give up on indy folks, it’s never going to happen’, no matter how depressed I was with the polling, I tried to keep my own and others spirits up. Call that bullish if you want, but I don’t believe I ever said we would win, just that it could be possible, that maybe we were missing something....

      Now with 10 years of data in hand, it’s clear my hope was misplaced and the polls were spot on; we had zero hope. It was too early and Scottish was still too British in identity. The average for 2014 predicted the result to within a fraction of 1%. The result was a foregone conclusion.

      Even in 2017 I was hoping the SNP push for an iref, but then the bottom fell out of support and it seemed very much the electorate were probably sending a message in the UKGE to ‘haud oan’. At the same time, the S30 went out the window as no party had a majority to deliver one at Westminster, meaning they could all just blame each other for it not being passed. Stalemate.

      I don’t know the SNP strategy, but whether it was the plan or pure luck / they were chickens**t, I think it’s best iref2 was not squandered in a 2017-19 poll, because would probably have lost, narrowly, and there was a huge risk of a narrow Yes being overturned in 2021 anyway. We only just got our baseline Yes for Yes parties this time. Whew! Just imagine 50.5% Yes in 2018 had just been overturned by 50.5% for pro-union parties standing on a joint 'cancel indy' plebiscite. What a f'n mess that would have been.

      Anyway, IMO, there are no excuses now it seems. I do firmly believe that by next year or so, a Yes will be forgone conclusion based on 10 years of solid, multi-poll data. Data that called 2014 spot on. Data that is reflecting generational changes in Scottish identity which is eating away at the union. With some decent bonus votes on top if the timing is right.

      That’s nothing to do with the SNP. It’s just what I see and based on it, I expect the SNP to deliver an iref in the next couple of years or I will be looking to vote different next time round.

      If someone wants to have a look at the data in my graph (which just the average for each year from WST) and tell me why my interpretation is all wrong while providing counter evidence, I’m all ears.


  6. Don't give anyone the benefit of the doubt - if they've made their way here then they know exactly what they are doing.

  7. The complacent and patronising tone is par for the course. Oh yes, it'll all be fine in a couple of years, despite the SNP doing nothing to advance the argument. And if the people aren't decisive enough, we'll just put back the ref until they are. What smug hogwash. Oh and let's ignore the GRA bill and all of its divisive, ill-thought out reforms, which the SNP avoided as much as possible discussing during the election, thus ensuring there is no popular mandate at all for it, despite the current rewriting of history to justify it. It was apparent with the pathetic grovelling video that Sturgeon is more invested in pleasing Stonewall than creating the conditions for independence.

    1. I prefer to based my thoughts on facts, hence the detailed analysis of all polling data for a 10 year period.

      I look forward to seeing your counter evidence in terms of support for indy. If you have solid evidence that Yes can already be sure of winning, I'd love to see the data. Please share it. It could help persuade people to back Alba's strategy of moving much faster.

      Personally, I think only unionists could dislike the graph I keep showing and attack my posts around it. I cannot understand how any independence supporter would not take great hope from the clear trend in it and what it strongly implies. As each year has passed, so the trend has become ever clearer.

      Fair enough if I kept plugging some silly 'only the libs can win here' type plot from the SNP site you could call me up on it, but it's my own work and my job is analyzing data to try and extract trends folk have overlooked.

  8. Just some observations from outside of the bubble.

    1) Alex is a liability to Alba. That much is very clear from everyone that I have spoken to. He's got their name on the map, now move on.

    2) This gender identity stooshie is getting mightily tiresome. It's not really on Joe Public's radar yet, but if/once it gets on it, it's a potential real vote loser. The SNP is at serious risk of veering off course and losing significant amounts of core support and it's only the 'Nicola can do no wrong' effect that's keeping that at bay, helped by her perceived excellent handling of the Covid crisis to date. This is the 21st century and I don't give a hoot which pink bits people rub their own pink bits against, but I vote SNP because I want independence. If I think there is a more viable alternative to that then they'll get my vote. Simples.

    3) We have a small window in which to gain independence. Most folk have now made up their minds on the subject, so don't expect big swings of opinion due to any forthcoming campaign. Some have changed their minds, true, but almost all now have an opinion whereas pre 2014, many didn't. Demographic change is a thing, and is working in our favour, however working against us is the might of the UK state machinery, and I believe that it will do everything that it believes that it can get away with to undermine the Scottish Government and reverse devolution. It would close down the Scottish Parliament tomorrow if it thought it could get away with it. It can't, so it'll do it slowly, bit by bit. If the SNP don't hold a second referendum by the end of this parliamentary term, or haven't at least made serious material efforts to do so, then they will lose my vote regardless and I'll give it to Alba, the Greens, or whoever shows the most commitment to independence even if it means starting from a base of 2% or whatever. Hell, I'll even start my own party if it comes to it.

    4) The SNP are only so popular because an increasing number of the Scottish population are wanting independence and see the SNP as the vehicle to achieve that. If the SNP don't deliver, the votes will melt away, so to any SNP peeps reading this- Now's the day and now's the hour so step up to the mark or we'll find someone else who can.

  9. I liked Jack Death back when he was in Trancers. He should have stuck to the Blade Runner ripoff 80s scifi films, extremist politics doesn't suit him.


  10. Some more 'SNP propaganda' they just sent me from the 'SNP HQ central command and control bunker'*.


    'Scottish not British' has been rising by about 1%/year over the past 10 years while 'More Scottish than British' and 'equally Scottish and British' have both proportionally fallen in response.

    And guess what, baseline Yes has followed this exactly because it is driven by it.

    It's not primarily a change in attitude, but a change in identity driven by a changing UK and world. Each year, a new 'generation' of voters get the vote. They're like 75% 'Scottish not British' and vote accordingly. They replace former unionist 'Equally Scottish and British' generations.

    It is effectively unstoppable. And Scots agree it is if you ask them; they just dispute how long it will take.

    *This is terminology only ever used historically by unionists. I suspect this still applies.

    Data from here: